After 27 years of community service, Pine-Strawberry Fire Department engineer Stacy Figueroa is retiring.

When she walks out of the station on Sunday, it will be for the last time.

Over the years Figueroa has been on the sad, the ugly and the occasional happy call. The brotherhood and teamwork of her crew makes the daily job rewarding, she said.

“We hauled (a local resident) down to have her baby,” she recalled with a smile. Stacy had known the mother since she was in grade school. A week later, the mom brought the baby to the station to meet the crew that helped get them to the hospital safely.

Still a tough job for any person, Figueroa said she had to stop thinking of being a “female” firefighter and just be a firefighter.

“Being built so much different from the guys, I always had to work so much harder,” she said. “I worked really hard to prove I am a firefighter, I train my sister firefighters, no matter what quit trying to do it as a female firefighter and do it as a firefighter.”

She acknowledges that the physical part, while she passed the required tests, was often harder on her than some of her co-workers. But being a female, Figueroa leaned on her “mom energy” to connect with patients on calls.

“We are approaching people in a very vulnerable state,” she said. “We (her crew) use that female energy.” Small children, scared and injured people, older folks alone in a fearful place, are all calls where her “mom energy” has come in handy.

As a single mom for much of her career, Figueroa found the schedule and the brotherhood of the firefighters important.

“I will miss the camaraderie, you become a family, even when you don’t get along,” Figueroa said of her coworkers.

“When things hit the fan, we are there for each other in the worst moments.”

“Do you have brothers?” she asked. “Try living with 14 of them.” She laughed. Stinky bathrooms and practical jokes aside, it was her work family. People she has learned from, cried with and been mad at. Some of them are her heroes, and she is a hero to some of them.

As a first responder, the job is community service, but Figueroa shines in this area. From clowning around to teaching kids about fire safety to reaching out to the community with information via social media, she has touched all of us.

Recognized by the Arizona State Fire School as Educator of the Year in 2013, she has spent her career educating kids, other firefighters, future firefighters and community members.

Her accomplishment list has more than 40 items on it, most it is community driven and much of that was done on her personal time. Preparing her clown outfits and programs, being a counselor at the state burn camp for kids, teaching other firefighters in equipment and in clown. I can’t list them all.

In this aspect, her retirement will leave a space that will be tough to fill. Stacy has lived in P-S for 35 years. She developed into who she is as a response to the surrounding community, who both encouraged and needed her.

“For 27 years I’ve been Stacy from Pine-Strawberry Fire Department,” she said, with a few tears. “I liked being able to calm my community down, it’s my home.”

One day many years ago, a young fan called 911 asking for Fizzles the clown. She had seen Fizzles at school and was convinced her mom was not handling the ashes from the fire correctly. A couple of generations have grown up with Fizzles.

I too will miss Fizzles, but most of all I will miss my dear friend, who more than once answered my call for some injury. My friend who is always rallying for the community that we all love.

Stacy is the woman that this community calls a friend, and I think that is the most valuable title she can have.

She is our community treasure. Stacy will be celebrated on Saturday, May 15 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at THAT Brewery in Pine. There will be a service award and time to share a tale or two.

Events coming back

Art aFlame

On Saturday, May 1 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. next to the Pie Bar in Strawberry will be a socially distanced outdoor fire extravaganza. Flaming art performances (I’m curious, are you?) vendors, food and fun is promised. The best part is that the event will benefit the Pine-Strawberry Fuel Reduction program. As 2020 falls away, remember so many fundraisers were canceled.

Tickets for this event are $20 online or $25 at the door. Tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com/event/5105804.

You can also check out ArtaFlameAZ.com or on facebook at ArtaFlameAZ.

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